Matthew Speckert talks about fourth year

A day in the life

Matthew Speckert talks about fourth year

Matthew Speckert

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.


Buzzing about biochemistry

Matthew Speckert figures the most important course in his Dal career might have been the one he went to when he was supposed to be somewhere else.

Matthew was in second year when that fateful swap took place. He was working on a combined degree in Biology and English, but wasn’t feeling challenged enough.

One week, he decided to miss one of his regular elective courses and sit in on a Biochemistry class instead. He was instantly fascinated.

“I just remember it was all about the chemical properties of water and some physical interactions,” he says. “It wasn’t necessarily intuitive, but you could imagine it. You could imagine water molecules forming sort of a lattice structure.”

Matthew left that classroom imagining a change in major.

“What I like about Biochemistry is that it takes physics and chemistry and biology and fuses them all together, giving you a great way to understand just about anything to do with the human body,” he says.

Although Matthew was a semester behind the other students in the program, Dal faculty and administrators helped him organize his courses so that he could make the switch and still graduate in four years.

He hasn’t looked back. After his third year, he entered the honours program in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and began doing lab work for Dr. Jan Rainey, an associate professor in the department.

Matthew quickly saw both the intellectual and social benefits of researching hormones that can affect blood pressure.

“At one point there were about 17 of us working there, so it was a very big lab and a very social atmosphere,” he says. “You create a little beehive of activity.”

Meanwhile, Matthew’s life buzzed away outside of the classroom. He was a residence assistant for three years and recommends the experience of living on campus.

“There’s always something going on. You’re never sitting at home thinking, ‘what should I do tonight?’”

From the classroom to campus life, the Newmarket, Ontario native has followed his own interests, a philosophy he recommends to new students. Especially when they’re choosing a field of study.

“Take what you’re interested in, not what people tell you is easy,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.”